10 January 2011
Madeira: Ten Ideas for All Ages
Hot tips from Reid's Palace staff on how to make the most of a stay in Madeira.
There are very few locations where people from 0 to 100 can do exactly what each of them wants, whether it's challenging sports, total relaxation, culture, fun and games and more. Reid's, which for more than a century has been perfecting the art of entertaining its guests, can claim unbeatable expertise in this sphere.
Fun@Reids Teenagers' Club
Anyone with children from 13 to 19 will understand the importance of this new facility: a Computer Club offering the latest games. It even encourages youngsters to mutate into early risers - to get there before their grandparents get at the screens. There is also a 'recording studio' where whole families have got together to play guitar, drums and keyboards in their own impromptu rock band.
Trot up into the mountains on the Escapada dos Cavaleiros, where supervised short-rein pony rides provide a great way to enjoy the mountain air - especially when a Reid's picnic is part of the excursion.
Madeira is a spectacular place to spruce up your swing, with beautiful courses out among trees and mountains, including one high up on a "balcony" towering above the coast (pictured top).
Let the island come to you without stepping outside Reid's. At breakfast, ask staff to introduce you to seasonal fruits such as the local passion fruit (shaped like a banana), tiny São João plums and the delicious Madeira cherries. At lunchtime, sample bolo do caco, the local bread made from sweet potato. In the evening, ask for a Maderini (a variation of the martini, made with dry Madeira wine) or a Funchal Tonic (gin, tonic and fresh fennel juice). The word Funchal (Madeira's capital city) comes from funcho, Portuguese for fennel, which grows on the island.
Such is the profusion of dolphins surrounding Madeira that in the unlikely event that you don't spot any on this boat trip you will be offered another excursion for free. Guests travel with a company of experts who include look-outs to locate the dolphins and marine biologists to answer questions. It is possible to swim with the dolphins, an unforgettable experience. Whales can often be sighted, too.
An exhilarating way to experience an island that stretches from tall, volcanic peaks down to cliffs - Europe's second highest - plunging into the deep blue ocean.
Cruise into the 15th Century
A magnificent replica of Christopher Columbus's galleon, Santa Maria, was built on Madeira and now makes half-day excursions along the coast.
Fun in Funchal
Explore the steep, winding streets of Madeira's capital city by Segway - and save your energy for viewing the sights.
Madeira is surrounded by many fascinating wrecks that can be explored in the company of diving experts. Barracudas, rays and mantas are among the many colourful species of fish that can be seen.
Madeira itself is one giant garden, but within this luxuriant setting are many more manicured plots. Among them, Quinta do Palheiro (Blandy) and the Botanical Gardens are world-famous, filled with orchids, lilies and bird of paradise flowers. But other green retreats, such as Quinta Palmeira, known for its rare, exotic proteas, are also full of charm.
What are your tips for things to do and places to see on the island of Madeira?